LAHORE - Shortage of funds which has become a serious issue for the PTI, in a latest development compelled the party leadership to reschedule upcoming public meetings in Punjab, The Nation has learnt.

Party insiders told this correspondent on Thursday that PTI Punjab chapter leadership has rescheduled four public meetings part of Azadi campaign in the province because of shortage of funds.

However, some PTI leaders talking with The Nation claimed that public meetings were rescheduled to hold the party support base for launching massive protests in case of party chief Imran Khan’s arrest.

An anti-terrorism court (ATC) in Islamabad on Wednesday issued non-bailable arrest warrants for Imran, PAT head Dr Tahirul Qadri and others for attacking buildings of Parliament and Pakistan Television (PTV).

PTI Punjab president Ijaz Chaudhry announcing new schedules for the public meetings said that Gujranwala public moot would be held on November 23, instead of 19, while public meetings in Mandi Bahauddin, Faisalabad and Kasur previously scheduled for November, would now be held next month.

Party insiders informed that top leadership has directed the district leaders, aspirants of party tickets for national and provincial assemblies to organise funds for holding these public meetings.

The party ticket aspirants and district leaders of Gujranwala, Mandi Bahauddin, Faisalabad and Kasur expressed their inability to hold the public meetings and asked for some more time to organise the funds to stage the party shows.

Earlier public meetings in Punjab and other provinces were held with the joint financial support of party fund and concerned district leaders but unending series of Azadi campaign jalsas has emptied the party coffer.

PTI, which had been facing acute shortage of funds since September to continue its Azadi drive had already started a special campaign for collecting funds in Punjab. A special fundraiser in Punjab had been started this month under which an aspirant for the Punjab Assembly ticket would donate Rs300,000 to the party fund while the National Assembly aspirant would donate Rs600,000.

On the occasions of Sargodha and Gujrat public meetings, party ticket aspirants of both districts had donated the amount to the party fund before the public meetings.

A senior PTI leader said, “Had 150,000 marchers been in the march at the time of entering Islamabad, this entire episode might have been wrapped up in 72 hours and no issue of funds scarcity would have arisen today.”

He added, “We had never planned the Azadi sit-in for more than three days but I must acknowledge that we failed to amass as much marchers as could build up enough pressure on the government as well as the establishment to seriously ponder over our demands for the prime minister’s resignation and fresh elections under a reformed electoral system.”

He informed the party in the US and Europe has cut down the donations in view of the indefinite time period of the Azadi sit-in, while some of them had stopped funding. He said that business tycoons from Punjab and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa belonging to the PTI had already politely refused to fund the campaign.